SUBLIME SHAKTI PILGRIMAGE
March 13-27 2020
Experience the Magic and Mystery of India through Pilgrimage, Tantra Yoga and Temple Dance.
Immerse yourself in the Sacred Gifts of India !
Yoga, Meditation, Dancing, Chanting, Praying,
Blessings from the Goddess and so much more.
No experience necessary, just a willingness to expand your possibilities. Join us, and celebrate your life!
with Ananda Shakti and Halo Seronko
Find out more. Get a 15min
Subject to slight itinerary change as we get closer to the pilgrimage
5 Nights Varanasi: The City Of Lord Shiva
“Varanasi is one of the most ancient cities of learning. This was a place where hundreds of enlightened beings lived at a time. In every street, you had an enlightened being to meet.” ~ SADGURU
“Older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, And looks twice as old as all of them put together ” ~MARK TWAIN city as old as time.
A city that has seen the world turn, tides change and generations of humans born and die. Varanasi or Kashi, which has been standing the tests of time for over 5,000 years is said to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. What draws millions of pilgrims from all over the world to the city of Varanasi is the fact that it is one of the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism. Called the spiritual capital of India, this magnificent city of learning radiates endless energy. Despite being witness to ancient civilizations come and go over centuries, Varanasi is still alive, unabashedly colorful, vibrant, and wonderfully rich in history and legends.
Varanasi city is also one of the Shakti Peeth as well as one of the twelve Jyotir Linga sites in India. In Hinduism it is believed that those who die and are cremated here get an instant gateway to liberation from the cycle of birth, death and re-birth. Not only does the city attract countless pilgrims, it’s a place where many choose to spend their last days. Belief goes that the one who dies here attains eternal salvation.
Varanasi, also known as Benaras or ancient Kashi, is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva. It is situated on the banks of River Ganges, which is believed to be a Goddess with the power of washing away all of one’s sins. As pundits here will tell you, whatever is sacrificed and chanted here, or given in charity reaps its fruits thousand times more than those good deeds performed at other places because of it’s power.Visiting Varanasi is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many reasons:
Visiting Varanasi is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many reasons:
- According to legend, Varanasi was founded by the Lord Shiva and was his favorite abode. In one verse of the ancient religious text of the Skanda Purana, Shiva says, “The three worlds form one city of mine, and Kashi is my royal palace therein”
- In Varanasi, the most natural and inevitable cycle of life and death is celebrated and revered with much gusto. Also known as ‘Maha-smashana’ or ‘The Great Cremation Grounds’, the holy city humbles you by bringing you face to face with the balance of life and death.
- A boat ride across the sacred Ganges perfectly captures the spirit of Varanasi. Countless candlelit paper boats with flowers carrying people’s prayers, float their way across the waters. Countless pilgrims take a holy dip in the waters, others meditate in solitude and the rest bow their heads in prayer along the Ghats. As the sun goes down the evening ritual of worship called the Ganga Aarti unfolds.
- Varanasi was the original hub of art, culture, spirituality and music. Many prominent Indian saints, philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians live or have lived in Varanasi. Several major figures of the Bhakti movement were born in Varanasi, including Kabir and Ravidas.
- Varanasi is home to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, one of the most important places of worship in the country. It is considered to be one of the twelve Jyotir Lingas of Lord Shiva and holds great significance in the spiritual history of India.
- Varanasi, the holy ‘City of Light’ shines bright, both physically and metaphorically. It is believed that a single dip in the holy waters of the Ganges can wash away a lifetime of sins.
A journey to the city of Varanasi is an intensely spiritual experience, complete with the inclusion of chanting sessions, satsangs, spiritual processes and much more. Our five-day trip will take you through the Kashiviswanath Temple, Annapurna Temple, Vishalakshi Temple, Manikarnika Ghat and includes a boat ride in the Ganges, Evening Aratiat the Dasaswamedh Ghat and the free time to explore Varanasi’s streets, ancient marketplaces and other cultural delights. Varanasi Sacred is not like any other pilgrimage, it is a chance to transform yourself and soak in the essence of the spiritual capital of India.
Vishalakshi Temple is dedicated to the Vishalakshi Maa (means wide eyed Devi) or the Goddess Parvati, the consort of the Lord Shiva. Vishalakshi Temple is also known as the Vishalakshi Gauri Temple. It is a most famous Hindu temple located at the Meer Ghat on the bank of the holy River Gange in the Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. The Vishalakshi Temple is considered as a Shakti Pitha, the most holy temples devoted to the Hindu Divine Mother, Adi Shakti. It is considered that the earrings or eyes of the Mata Sati have fallen in the Varanasi at this sacred spot .
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple has earned the name of Golden Temple due to the gold plating done using one ton of gold donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh on its 15.5-m high spire. Invaders destroyed the original temple and Rani Ahilyabai of Indore rebuilt it only in in 1776. Again
7century Durga temple is built in Nagara Style and is one of the most important temples of the city. The ‘shikhara’ of the temple consists of several small spires layered one on top of the other.
Bharat Mata Temple
Dedicated to Mother India, it is situated in Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth. It was built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt and inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936. The statue marble of Mother India shows undivided India with mountains, plains and oceans in exact proportions.
Tulsi Manas Temple
Dedicated to Lord Rama, this temple is said to be built on the site where Goswami Tulsidas wrote the epic ‘Ramacharitramanas’. It was built in 1964 by a philanthropist family.
Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
Sankat Mochan in Hindi means reliever from troubles. Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple is one of the sacred temples of the Hindu god Hanuman.
The idol is also decked with a pleasant marigold flower garland as well. This temple has the unique distinction of having Lord Hanuman facing his Lord, Rama, whom he worshiped with steadfast and selfless devotion. Some astrologers believe that worshiping Hanuman can neutralize the ill-effect of Mangal (Mars) and practically any planet that has an ill effect on human life.
KAMAKHYA, ASSAM March 25-17
3 nights Kamakhya Temple, Assam: Where Shakti’s Yoni fell
The sacred shrine of Goddess Kali as Kamakhya is the most important Temple of Assam and the main attraction of Guwahati. The temple with bee-hive shaped Shikaras, Is perched on the Nilachal Hill and is a fine example of Assamese architecture. The ancient shrine is one of the most important Tantric Temples in India and of the 51 Shakti Peethas. The Kalika Purana, an ancient work in Sanskrit, describes Kamakhya Devi as the yielder of all desires, the young bride of Shiva, and the giver of salvation. Kamakhya is yet another name and face of the Goddess Shakti.
The Bleeding Goddess
Kamakhya Devi is famous as the bleeding goddess. The mythical womb and vagina of Shakti are supposedly installed in the ‘Garvagriha’ or sanctum of the temple. In the month of Ashaad (June), the goddess bleeds or menstruates. At this time, the Brahmaputra river near Kamakhya turns red. The temple then remains closed for 3 days and holy water is distributed among the devotees of Kamakhya devi. There is no scientific proof that the blood actually turns the river red. Some people say that the priests pour vermilion into the waters. But symbolically, menstruation is the symbol of a woman’s creativity and power to give birth, so the deity and temple of Kamakhya celebrates this ‘Shakti’ power within every woman.
There are 51 Shakti Peethas in different parts of India as well as in Pakistan, Nepal & Sri Lanka. The Kamakhya Shakti Peeth is considered the most powerful Shakti Peeth, as the yoni (vagina) of Goddess Sati had fallen here, following the splitting of the Goddess’ dead body. Since everyone comes to this world through the ‘yoni’ this place is considered as the center point of creating the whole Brahmand (world).
Temples of the Dasa Mahavidyas
The temple complex is dedicated to Ten Mahavidyas, or wisdom Goddesses: Bhuvaneshwari, Baglamukhi, Chhinnamasta, Tara, Kali, Bhairavi, Dhumvati, Tripura Sundari, Matangi & Kamla. The three Shakti’s Tripura Sundari, Kamla & Matangi reside inside the main temple dedicated to Kamakhya. The most important part of the temple is the ‘Garbhagriha’, which is a cave 20 feet below ground level. The ‘Garbhagriha’ is small, dark and reached by narrow steep stone steps.
The Sanctum is actually a cave, which consists of no image, but a natural spring that flows through, a yoni shaped cleft in bedrock, covered all the way with a big silver dome on which flower mala, sindur, chunri, sari, prasad are offered by the pujari sitting there. The sacred water coming through the yoni shaped rock is considered as the most powerful Jal (water), which when taken regularly after having darshan, gives moksha (liberation) to the bhakta.
Apart from Ten Mahavidya temples, there are Shiva temples named Kotilinga Mahadev, Kameshwar Mahadev, Sidheswra Mahadev.
Here yoni and linga is worshiped, a requirement in Tantric puja. It is a popular saying that no Tantric is complete without visiting the Kamkhya Temple. Animal sacrifices do take place on the daily at Kamakhya, so it is good to be prepared and open-minded for that aspect of Tantric worship. The animals blood is offered in a sacrifice known as ‘Bali’, and the meat is eaten as prasad. Only the left-hand Tantric practitioners eat meat, while most strict Hindus are vegetarian.
Dedicated to Mahavidya Goddess Bhuvaneshwari, this temple is located on the topmost point ofthe Nilachal Hill. The view of the Brahmaputra river from the temple is breathtaking.
Uma Nanda Temple
Uma Nanda temple is a 17th century temple on an island within the sacred Brahmaputra River. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The island is also a sanctuary for an endangered population of Golden Langurs which you can see from very close quarters. The island also has a Ganesha temple and is small enough to be explored on foot.
The Navagraha Temple is an 18th century temple dedicated to the nine planets, or Celestial bodies and sits atop Chitrasal Hill, the second highest hill in the city of Guwahati.
PURI, BHUBANESWAR & ORISSA
5 Nights Puri And Bhubaneswar, Orissa: Land Of The Devadasi
The City of Puri March 13-17
Better known as the earthly abode of Lord Vishnu or Jagannath, Puri has a rich cultural heritage. The Jugannath Temple was home to one of the most ancient traditions of sacred dance, an offering dance by auspicious women known as Maharis (also known as Devadasis) whom were wedded to the deity of the temple.
The city also possesses a very significant monastery in the form of Gobardhan matha established by Adi Shankaracharya on his visit to Puri. Other religious heads and dignitaries like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Rai Ramananda, Jayadeva, Gorakhanath,and Saint Totapuri (a vedant teacher of Ramakrishna), have also visited Puri leaving indelible imprints of their philosophies on the cultural curtain of the city. In addition to its undaunted spiritual significance, it is the quintessential characteristic of its culture and philosophy that has helped Puri to be transformed from Pan-Indian to Pan-Continental. This is further made clear by the celebration of ‘The Car-Festival of Lord Jagannath’ and the ‘Puri Beach Festival’ thus presenting a fine blend of spiritual and sensory pleasures.
Konark Sun Temple
This 13th century temple complex is in the shape of a gigantic chariot, having elaborately carved stone wheels, pillars and walls. A major part of the structure is now in ruins, however much is amazingly preserved. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site is also featured as one of the Seven Wonders of India.
The temple received it’s name as a chariot for the sun god Surya, with 12 pairs of stone-carved wheels and a team of seven galloping horses (only one of which survives intact). The symbolizes the passage of time, which is under the sun god’s control. The seven horses, which pull the sun temple eastwards towards the dawn, represent the days of the week. The 12 pairs of wheels represent the 12 months of the year and the eight spokes in each wheel symbolize the eight ideal stages of a woman’s day.
The main entrance to the complex is on the eastern (sea-facing) side, in front of the Hall of Offerings (bhogamandapa). This was a later addition to the complex and was likely used for ritual dance performances, as its walls are carved with sculptures of musicians and dancers as well as erotic scenes.Konark is famous as one of the ‘Kama Sutra’ temples with intricate and erotic carvings of lovemaking in many different constellations as well as it’s walls of carvings of dancers.
Mukteswar Music and Dance Festival
As Orissa has a rich history in the Arts, and Temple Dance will be one of our focuses on the journey, we will have the honor of attending a festival of Classical Indian Music and Dance near the Konark Temple grounds. Many reputed artists perform at this festival including the famous Odissi dancer Sujata Mohapatra.
The City of Bhubaneswar
Bhubaneswar is one of the ancient cities of India. This city is the capital of the state of Orissa (also known as Odisha). It features more than 600 Hindu temples, exhibiting the continuum of ancient Kalinga Architecture. It is often referred to as the ‘Temple City of India’, ‘Temple Town’ or ‘Cathedral City of India’.
Together with Puri and Konark, Bhubaneswar forms the ‘golden triangle’-one of the most visited destinations in East India for its proud possession of magnificent sculpture and majestic architectural heritage.
Bhubaneswar is named after Lord Shiva, who is also known as ‘Tribuhuvaneswara’ which literally means the ‘Lord of Three Worlds’. Other than Hindus, this city is a significant pilgrimage center for Buddhists and Jainis as well. The most famous ancient temples of Bhubaneswar are Lingaraj Temple, Lakshmanesvara Temples, Parasuramesvara Temple, Svarnajalesvra Temple, Muktesvara Temple, Rajarani Temple, Vaital Temple, Brhamesvara temple, Meghesvara temple, Vaskaresvara Temple, Ananta Vasudeva Temple, Sari Temple, Kapilesvara Temple, Markandesvara Temple, Yamesvara Temple, Chitrakarini Temple and Sisiresvara Temple.
Vaital Deul Temple Vaital Deul (800 AD) has a double-storied wagon roof, which in turn is an influence of the Buddhist cave architecture. The interior of the temple has the image of Chamunda(an incarnation of Goddess Kali).
The Rajarani Temple (1100 AD), which derives its name from the stone known as the Rajarani, was built earlier in comparison to the impressive Lingaraj. Set amongst picturesque paddy fields, the relatively small Rajarani temple is noted for its fascinating female figures portrayed in a stunning variety of amorous poses and moods.
Lingaraj Temple is a temple of the Hindu god Shiva and is one of the oldest temples of Bhubaneswar. It is a revered pilgrimage center. The temple of Lingaraj is the biggest temple complex in Bhubaneswar. It is located within a spacious compound wall measuring 520 feet by 465 feet.
The temple of Lingaraj is by far the most notable monument of Bhubaneswar. Rising to a height of about one hundred and eighty feet and dominating the entire landscape, it represents the quintessence of the Kalinga type of architecture and the culminating result of the architectural tradition at Bhubaneswar. This temple hasfour parts: the main temple, the Yajna Shala, the Bhoga Mandap and finally the Natya Shala. This temple has images of both Shiva and Vishnu with the Shiva idol surrounding the Vishnu (Shaligram) idol.
Mukreswar is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is renowned for its beautiful carvings and exquisite sculptural works. The complicated carvings in the temple walls and halls show a mixture of artistic styles of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist. The temple is credited with a richly adorned stone arch at the entrance, an architectural marvel in the ancient past. The temple is a massive structure of 35 ft high and is a marvel in sandstone. The temple walls are decorated with legendary stories from the Panchatantra and includes sculptural designs of many animals including elephants, lions and monkeys.
Chausati Yogini Temple
Also known as the 64 Yogini Temple, the Chausati Temple is an ancient Tantric temple that is open to the sky, as Tantric prayer rituals involve worshiping the bhumandala (environment consisting all the 5 elements of nature – fire, water, earth, sky and ether).
The legend behind the temple according to local priests is of the Goddess Durga taking the form of 64 demi-goddesses in order to defeat a demon. After the fight the 64 goddesses (yoginis) asked Durga to commemorate them in the form of a temple structure.
The yogini idols are generally representing a female figurine standing on an animal, demon or a human head depicting the victory of Shakti (Feminine power). The idols express everything from rage, sadness, pleasure, joy, desire and happiness.
Along the journey we will be participating in various auspicious pujas and ceremonies, and receiving darshan (blessings) from the holy sites listed above. There will also be opportunities for SEVA, or selfless service when appropriate.
Free time and bazaar time will be arranged as well, as India’s markets are simply exquisite!!!
Please Stay Tuned For Our Daily Schedule
Kriya Flow Yoga with Ananda Shakti
Kriya Prayer Flows:
- The Yoga of Trust/Faith ( Shradha Shakti )
- The Yoga of Gratitute (Bhakti Shakti)
- The Yoga of Inspiration (Divya Shakti)
Sananda Kriya Prayer Flows are a form of Yoga flows that is potent spiritual technique. The three being offered now to the public awaken the primary states of consciousness that are necessary for spiritual deveolpment. Gratitude, Divine fire, Faith.
Kriya Prayer Flows are Dynamic, yet meditative asana flows that include the subtle aspects of yoga : mantra, mudra, bandha, chanting and recitation of spiritual scripture/teachings/transmission. The shakti (energy) of each kriya sequence flows through the practitioner like a celestial song reorganizing and purifying ones pranic flow towards the state of consciousness that is intended.
What is Kriya Yoga ?
Kriya; in Sanskrit means action, deed, effort and includes personal work and spiritual efforts. True spiritual efforts always are efforts of selfless love Yoga; to join, to unite, thus to reunite mankind with God. Kriya Yoga; as a combined word thus means to act with love and work in a loving way until all our karma is dissolved and we are reunited with God. The purpose of KriyaYoga is to free souls entangled on earth by the power of divine love and to reunite souls with God. We human beings are spiritual souls trapped in our karma related body on our planet earth.
Odissi: Classical Indian Temple Dance with Halo Seronko
Odissi is a Classical Indian Dance form with roots in the Jugannath and Krishna Temples of Orissa, India. Odissi is a dance of grace, beauty, power and most importantly, devotion. It is yogic in origin, with it’s postures and mudras opening the bodies energetic pathways; and subtle movements activating the primary energy centers, or chakras. Odissi is an exquisitely postural dance form, which harmonizes masculine and feminine energies in the body through the strong footwork softened by flowing torso, wrist and eye movements. It is a dance of expression, where the dancer literally embodies different archetypal energies through Bhava, or emotion.
Odissi, in it’s highest expression, is a Bhakti (devotional) yoga with the goal to lead us into the light of Moksha (liberation) through our seamless merging with the Divine. Odissi dance is a powerful way to build strength, balance, coordination, memory, and devotion through the embodiment of beauty. It is a deep path to exploring our own Divinity through the embodiment of Hindu Deities, expression of Bhava (emotion) through dance, and dedication of practice to Lord Jugannath (and essentially the Divine beyond form). It is a profound radiance practice with deep roots in tradition, Temple life, and a way of being many of our souls long for, and even remember on a cellular level.
On this journey:
- Explore the history and theory of Odissi Dance
- Learn the opening prayer, foundational movements and most prominent Mudras of Odissi Dance
- Learn Odissi basic stepping
- Sample sections of Odissi choreography
My life has been dedicated to discovering how to become Bliss to live in authentic service and devotion to the Divine and to know without a doubt Only Love Is Real. My great delight is to share my experience of awakening with others who are aspiring to know Love. I have had the immense honour of receiving spiritual initiations and blessings by many great masters in the Americas and in my Beloved India. I am a devotee of the Divine Feminine, Goddess, or Shakti principle and it is in Her service and inspiration that I act.
I have been leading, Sananda yoga teacher training courses since 2004 in Toronto and abroad. I also teach a specialized form of yoga called Kriya Prayer Flows, which open the body/mind to moods or states that are the foundational pillars of spiritual awakening. Devotion, Faith and Inspiration. The flows are named Bhakti Shakti, Shraddha Shakti, and Divya Shakti.
I am an intuitive healer and since 2003 I have specialized in assisting clients to embrace their full potential by identifying and releasing obstructing, fear based, karmic patterns, through Choose Love Karmic Readings. The intuitive readings connecting to higher realms energies, release what is dense, stuck and old from your life. It is truly a life changing experience.. Training as a practitioner in this modality is also offered once a year LIVE online.
I lead spiritual retreats and tours to choice destinations in the world, for example The Sublime Shakti Tours to India, which are an absolute delight ! A journey through India to the most potent Goddess Temples while learning yoga, meditation and chanting along the way.
I have a history in the music scene and L*O*V*E* POWER is the name of my current band. We play interactive music and kirtan. Merging East and West, Bliss and Dance, Performer and Audience. We believe Music and the Power of Love can turn this world around.
More about Ananda Xenia Shakti at www.onlyloveisreal.love
Halo Seronko is the creatrix of Shakti Temple Arts where she serves as a Temple Dancer, Priestess and Tantric Yogini guiding women deeper into their innate radiance and power as the living Goddess, Shakti.
Living between the holy land of India and the USA for the past 6 years, Halo has been bridging the worlds by bringing ancient traditions of Shakti embodiment to the West. While in India she studies Classical Indian Temple Dance and Tantra, and goes on extensive pilgrimages to sacred sites of the Goddess. The mysteries of the feminine and of the womb have been her guiding lights upon her quest for deeper and deeper embodied understanding of the Goddess, and thus she has been diving deep into ancient practices of Shakti cultivation from various traditions for the past decade.
Shakti Temple Arts is Halo’s offering to the rise of the Divine Feminine. Through time tested lineages of embodiment, consciousness, health and beauty practices, Shakti Temple Arts offers keys to unlocking the soul’s yearning for expression of it’s innate divinity in THIS life, and in THIS body.
Halo believes that Temple is a vessel for God/Goddess, be it an ancient architectural structure, or our very bodies, breath and consciousness. It is a way of life that acknowledges the Sacred in all that is, and offers reverence and awe in the form of beauty, and the cultivation of embodied awareness.
Shakti Temple Arts offerings include classes, retreats and immersions weaving lineages of:
- Temple Dance
- Taoist Jade Egg Practices and Sacred Feminine Self Care
- Tantric Yoga and Rituals
- Priestess Arts and Womb Mysteries
Halo has taught and performed these arts in India, Guatemala, Australia and along the West Coast of the USA.
More about Halo Seronko and Shakti Temple Arts at www.shaktitemplearts.com
Partha Paitandi is a brahmin priest who lives in West Bengal, India. He was born and brought up in a Hindu Brahmin (priest) family in Bakreswar. The Brahmin people are a prominent community spread across the whole of India. The Brahmin are the highest of the four Hindu castes, made up of priests and scholars of Vedic literature. Their traditional occupation is to concern themselves with the spiritual guidance of the people, and to conduct rites at marriages, births, deaths and other auspicious occasions. He works at the Bakreswar Shakti Temple as a main priest. He can also perform all types of Hindu rituals including fire puja. He loves to share the culture, heritage, history and spirituality of India. Partha is a self-motivated person having profound knowledge about culture and philosophy. He fluently speaks English and other local regional languages. He has organised small group tours all over India for the past 10 years. Partha has consistently serviced various renowned travel companies, as well as been a freelance tour guide and interpreter. He has traveled to many parts of India including North India; Gangotri, Jhansi, Varanasi, Allahabad and Mathura, East India; Orissa and Kamakhya in Assam, South India; Kerala and Tamil Nadu, West India; Jaipur and Udaipur. Partha has also experienced the Kumbha Mela, which is the biggest congregation of Sadhus (Hindu Saints) and occurs after every 12 years.
Our journey will be a total of 15 days (2 weeks). We will have approximately 1 day of travel within every 5 days of our tour. Our travel will include planes, trains and automobiles. All will be pre-arranged, as well as hotels. Further details on the transportation will come with the schedule at a later date. Meal places will not be pre-arranged, however all of your guides have spent time at each of these locations and know clean and good places to dine.
Full Tuition With Shared Room:
Full Tuition With Single Room
Airfare to and from India
Camera and video charges for photography.
Meals (please allow a budget of $200 USD for dining)
Vedic Astrology sessions
- Group airport pick up at the designated time for arrival.
- All accommodations. The hotels are chosen because of their character and relevance to where we are.
- Transport for tour excursions.
- Visits to the sacred sights, shrines, and temples
- All applicable taxes and tolls as per govt. regulations
- Professional Indian tour guide
- Blessings from sadhus and gurus
- Yoga classes
- Dance classes
- Evening Meditations, Lectures or Rituals
- One on One spiritual counselling
For more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org